News and views to improve the strength and vigor of all your direct response marketing activity.

As we highlighted in a previous post, there’s plenty of room for direct mail in the digital age. From the research referenced, we know that many people prefer to engage with brands that they want to hear from through direct mail – more so than signing up for emails. The best direct response campaigns today still feature a combination of off- and online approaches to reach, convert, and nurture respondents.

While it’s not rocket science to drop a mail program, you do have to know what you’re doing. Here are the six steps of a well-designed direct mail campaign:

Zero In and Precisely Target Likely Responders

Research and evaluate the best lists of records and data to reach your target audience. Questions for the savvy marketer:

Is the data current? What are the data sources of the file? What demographic selects does it have? Who continues to use the file? Does it offer the opportunity for rollout potential? Is the list provider reputable?

How well you understand your target and list sources can dictate success or failure at this early stage of the process.

Shop Smart When Buying Your List(s)

Negotiate all of your pricing and Net Name Arrangements upfront. When ordering your lists, don’t put all of your eggs (i.e., trust) in one basket, especially for first-time campaigns. It is best not to be overconfident in one source. Purchase two or more lists, but don’t overbuy (as the duplication rate may be high on similar niche lists). Consider testing new sources to prevent “list fatigue.”

Refine Your Target Universe

Put the power of data processing to work for you. Run the lists through a data hygiene process. This allows you to dedupe and merge-purge all lists, suppress records, check addresses and list field consistency, and code files. Don’t pay for mail that won’t pay out for you. Remove current clients from prospect lists so that the message makes sense and doesn’t confuse or insult them (e.g., “I’m already a client; why are they encouraging me to sign up for something I already have? Don’t they know who I am?”). Most of this is done by an outside provider, but you need to know what you want to achieve and identify decision trees to be able to define the data processing specs for this important step.

Build in Key Tracking Tools

You’ll want to prepare proper coding and mailing protocols. Working with a trusted lettershop will include critical elements such as setting up your mailings by coding, data signoffs, variations of creative, and mailing waves as well as other variables based on the audience you are trying to reach. How well this step is done determines how well you do in the next step.

Track and Measure Your Results — Where the Fun Starts!

How many calls and Web hits were generated? How many sales? How much revenue was realized? Which lists performed well? Which failed? If you used multiple versions of creative, how did each perform? Did you use different offers? Which consumers responded? Who actually purchased? What demographic attributes can you draw inferences from?

Collect all of these data to help identify successful lists, creatives, offers, respondents, and more. To wisely toss the losers — and optimize with the winners — move to Step Six ...

Maximize Your ROI With a Model or Profile

Once you have a few campaigns under your belt you’ll have enough results to analyze (e.g., responses, closed sales). Now’s the time to build a model to help increase the efficiency of all your future campaigns — with insights you can extrapolate across all media channels. Why not model after one mailing initiative? Even if it’s perceived to be successful, your first campaign could be drastically different than the next. The more input you have, the more accurate your model will be. However, if you don’t have enough response data to build a model, you can build a profile, which is a good first step to enhance your next campaign. A profile will provide a clearer picture of those who responded to your campaign.

Don’t Overlook the Power of Direct Mail in Your Next Direct Marketing Campaign

We’ve become conditioned to delete emails from senders we don’t recognize or those whom we’ve come to feel Spammed by. It’s almost an unconscious reflex in an effort to keep the inbox clear.

Good marketers should always evaluate what’s working and what isn’t when considering their marketing mix. How can you most effectively and efficiently reach your target audience? For many the answer has been — and will continue to be for the foreseeable future — direct mail, specifically list marketing.

A well-planned direct response campaign can succeed with a direct mail component to drive your desired results. Especially for products or services that don’t sell themselves, the right package with the right message to the right person at the right time can make the difference. It sounds difficult, and it is. But it is possible and, when done right, can be more effective than other channels in your marketing mix.

DMW Direct has helped clients such as Meemic incorporate direct mail into successful direct response programs. You can read the case study or contact us to find out how we can help you design an effective direct mail campaign for your organization.